John Bradford Branney is the author of eight books: Shadows on the Trail, Saving Miguel, Ghosts of the Heart, Light Hidden by Darkness, Winds of Eden, When Leaves Change Color, Clock Strikes Three, and CROW and the CAVE. Available on line or at better booksellers.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Inspiration - CLOCK STRIKES THREE by John Bradford Branney
I am unsure how it works for other authors, but all
of my books were based on an event in my life that triggered
a memory or seed of a thought. Ultimately, I take that memory and build a fictional story around it. My newest novel entitled CLOCK
STRIKES THREE is another example of that.
STRIKES THREE is about the twisted relationship between
a psychiatrist and a patient, in this case, a young man leading a rudderless life. Most of us have grown up in an environment where our parents trust our doctors
and they assume that these doctors have our best interest at heart. In ninety-nine
point nine percent of the cases, this is probably true, but what happens with
that one in a thousand exception? After all, doctors are only human. They suffer
from the same physical and mental maladies the rest of us suffer from.
The seed for CLOCK STRIKES THREE originated in my
brain from an incident that happened to me in high school. My mother is part
of the "greatest generation" that believes that everything doctors tell us is fact and
true. She is from a time when people placed doctors on pedestals. She grew up
in a time before modern medicine and treatments, when doctors were the be-all,
cure-all for any sickness. She grew up in a time when diseases like cancer were
death sentences and when diseases like polio struck the young without warning
My mother believed the sun and moon rose and set
with our hometown doctor. To my mother, our Dr. X was the closest thing to a miracle
worker that the world had seen for around nineteen hundred and some years. My mother could never believe that our doctor had any frailties or weaknesses. The truth
was that while Dr. X was a highly intelligent man, demons had taken up refuge
in his soul.
I had a dangerously high fever in high school along
with swollen throat and coughing. My mother tried the entire gamet of over-the-counter
drugs available at the time, but nothing seemed to relieve my pain. I continued
to get worse. It had become serious. Finally, my mother took me to the emergency
room at the hospital where she knew the doctor was working that afternoon.
The doctor met us in the emergency room and examined
me. He agreed that I was very ill and that we
needed to break the fever. My mother
later admitted to me that the doctor was out of his usual sorts when he examined
me. Hindsight is twenty-twenty. I noticed nothing different about Dr. X, but
then again, the fever had taken me to another planet. The doctor decided to
give me an injection of something. I do not remember what he told us the
medicine was, perhaps an antibiotic or something to break the fever and fight
the virus. He left to go retrieve the medicine while my mother and I waited.
I remember sitting there on the examining table,
weaving back and forth, my equilibrium was off and the fever had me in its relentless
grasp. I remember my mother asking me repeatedly, if I was all right. Of course,
I was not all right! Her voice rang in my ears as if she were yelling into a
The doctor returned and gave me the injection. I specifically remember looking down and watching the medicine entering my arm. The
next thing I remember I was lying on the ice-cold floor of the emergency room. I
had no idea where I was. The doctor was kneeling over me, pounding and pushing on my chest
like a drum. He must have saw my eyes fluttering and stopped giving me CPR. I looked over at my
mother. She was crying, a look of absolute horror on her face. Who died? I wondered. I tried to sit up,
but the doctor held me down on the floor. I heard him tell my mother that he
wanted to keep me in the hospital for observation.
Later that day, they released me to go home. I went
home and eventually the fever broke and I recovered. Once, I was feeling better,
I asked my mother what happened in the emergency room.
“The doctor killed you,” I remember her saying.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“He gave you the wrong medication and stopped your
heart,” she replied. Then, after a long pause, she added, “You were dead…I am never
taking you to him, again.”
For a long time, I did not ask her what she meant by
you were dead. Finally, she told me. The
medication stopped my heart. The doctor had to do CPR to save me. She never
took us to that doctor, again. Now, that was a good idea. She occasionally reminded me how Dr. X tried to kill me. If we
needed a doctor after that incident, we drove fifty miles to the next town. My
parents never sued Dr. X. The incident happened at a time that litigation and
suing were the exception, not the rule.
A few months later, law enforcement arrested Dr. X for
drug abuse and soon after, he lost his license to practice medicine. It appeared he was writing
fake prescriptions and using the medication on himself. A small town scandal
erupted. It became clear to me why he had made a mistake with my medication. By
what my mother later told me, Dr. X was a full-fledged drug addict at the time
of the incident. About a year later, Dr. X crashed his plane and died. Toxicology report was positive, of course. The small town scandal reached a crescendo.
Doctors are human. They have strengths and
weaknesses, like all of us. My novel CLOCK STRIKES THREE explores the relationship
between a different Dr. X and a vulnerable and naïve patient.
STRIKES THREE for the rest of my story.